Superb 35 years-old photographer and well-known from the french movie industry, Sylvie Biscioni studied Fine Arts photography picture option in University Paris VIII. She is the co-author of two beautiful books :
-"Changement de bobines" (co-author Remo Forlani). A superb gallery of black and white portraits. Edited in France by Denoël (october 1995).
-"En lumière" (co-author Dominique Maillet). Work consacrated to cinematographers. Supported by Kodak. Edited in France by Deujarric (december 2001).
I straight away contacted her to ask if she would agree to speak about her meeting with Gaspar Noé. And it was with a disarming simplicity and kindness that she accepted. So, thanks to Sylvie Biscioni, for taking part in this question-answer exercise.
Talk me about the beggining of this shooting session.
After "Changement de bobines", I made a portraits exhibition in Bobigny, in September 1997 at the Magic Cinéma. I have to precise that in the postface of this book, Gaspar Noé was quoted. As I wanted to take a picture of him, Monique Koundrine from Kodak Company (with whom I worked) gave me his contact details. This is how I could reach him.
Was the approach easy ?
I can't remember well if I had to call him a lot or not... No! I remember now, I simply called to ask him if he'd agree if I coud shot his portrait, and he accepted. I don't remember any problem.
Did he know your work ?
No, I don't think so.
So, he said yes quite quickly and confident ?
Was there a preliminary meeting ?
No. We talked on the phone and I explained him how I worked. That is to say that for the portraits, I prefer photograph people at their homes if possible. Gaspar Noé gave me a rendez-vous at his house... so I went.
Was he comfortable ?
Completely! I arrived, "Hello!", I showed him my book "Changement de bobines" and we immediately worked together.
Did he require something about the proceedings of the photoshoot ?
Absolutely not! Formerly, I had talked of the black and white portraits series I made and told him how each session happened. He agreed with my way of doing. Not any constraint nor any specific, I worked in a whole artistic freedom.
Did you dread his "closed" character ?
Not at all ! It doesn't bother me.
Was he comfortable, him, who talks about his "social autism" ?
(Sylvie Biscioni laughs) What a funny question, are you sure we are talking about the same person? I'm going to tell you something. Every artists I work with are quite at ease with me. Even those who don't like much pictures at the beginning. I don't ask them many thing, I don't have many constraint, I don't bring lightings and I'm not guiding. My portraits are often made with natural lights. As a result, we get along well ! I believe that I have a human approach in my work.
Gaspar Noé is a unordinary being. We talked a bit during the photoshoot. I talked him about Carne that I saw and really enjoyed. At this time, I don't remember if he just finished the shooting of I Stand Alone or if he was in the distribution process... it have already been six years!
Isn't the difference between his cinematographic universe and the gentleness of his look on the picture surprising? It seems like all his inside violence flows on his movies.
It's an aspect of things on which I don't dwell on. Not by disinterest but simply because it isn't my job. I'm not a movie critic... I'm a photographer! I enjoyed his shortfilm Carne, I consider Gaspar Noé really photogenic, he looks good on pictures (she laughs another time), but I don't compare the movie to the picture I'm shooting. I act in an impulsive way. I like or I dislike a movie! This is why to extend the movie screening by a photoshooting.
My job stops here!
A great thanks to Silvye Biscioni for the interview and for the picture of Gaspar Noé.
Thanks also to Philou.
Interview by Philippe Lowinski.
Translated from french by Alexis Veille.